Flu season on horizon
Community shot clinic set for Sept. 21
IRONWOOD — Flu season is just around the corner, typically lasting from October through May.
The Iron County Health Department, Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, Gogebic Community College’s nursing program and Aspirus Grand View Hospital will host a flu vaccination clinic at GCC’s Lindquist Center gymnasium on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 9 to 11 a.m.
Zona Wick, Iron County Health Department officer, said research shows the flu vaccine not only prevents the flu virus, but also benefits the immune system and fends off other infections like the common cold.
The vaccine is very important for vulnerable populations, Wick said, such as the very young and the elderly, as well as people with medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
“If a lot of people get immunized, it provides what is called herd immunity,” said Wick. This keeps everyone protected from the flu, not only those who are immunized, because it prevents the virus from spreading.
“Getting an annual flu vaccine is still the single best strategy to prevent flu and to stay healthy during the coming flu season,” said Dr. Terry Frankovich, WUPHD medical director. “Vaccination protects you, your family and your neighbors because when more of us are vaccinated, less flu circulates within the community.”
Anyone who works with the public, school-aged children or in a health care setting should get immunized, Wick said.
A common misperception about the flu vaccine is that it gives you the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control website. This is untrue.
“When residents attend this clinic, they not only receive their annual flu shots, but they also assist local health care partners with exercising emergency plans,” Wick said. “The collaboration of three health care organizations, as well as local nursing students, offers a quick and efficient vaccination experience.”
Dr. Chris Pogliano, of AGVH, said symptoms of the flu, including a fever, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills, body aches or vomiting, typically last five to seven days, but the feeling of fatigue can linger for a couple of weeks.
“Early recognition of flu symptoms is very important,” Pogliano said. “Being able to provide treatment can help shorten the duration and severity of the flu.”
Pogliano advises drinking plenty of fluids, staying home and practicing good hygiene techniques (like frequent hand washing) for anyone with flu-like symptoms. He recommended immediately seeing a physician if symptoms worsen or if signs of dehydration, like severe headaches or dizziness, occur.
Being careful to not write off the flu as a cold is important, Pogliano said. The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can be carried out, when needed to tell if a person has the flu.
“In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, with symptoms being much more intense,” Dr. Pogliano said. “Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations, which is why it is important to see your physician to be sure.”
Tips for prevention
—Sneeze or cough into a tissue, then throw that tissue away.
—Wash hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used in a pinch.
—Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth. That’s an easy way for germs to enter the body.
—When sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. This can help prevent the virus from spreading.
For more information, call the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department at 906-667-0200; Aspirus Grand View at 906-932-2525; or the Iron County Health Department at 715-561-2191.